Parker Day is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work explores identity and the masks we wear. Through costuming and exaggerated expressions, Day toys with the truth of who and what she portrays. She deliberately eschews Photoshop in favor of in-camera capture on film. Lurid color bathes her work and heightens the surreality of her subjects while the grain and grit of the photographs make them palpably real. She has received press from publications such as The New Yorker, Juxtapoz, Vice, i-D, and Dazed, among many others.
ICONS is a series of 100 semi-fictionalized portraits of LA’s eccentric personalities.
The Female Gaze (Penelope Gazin)
I believe identity is a malleable construct that we have the power to dismantle. Through my photography, I explore this idea of the invention of identity. I costume my subjects and craft narratives about the character they’re becoming. When they step outside of who they think they are, something more authentic comes through. It’s that presence of true emotion that I’m looking to capture in the trappings of a manufactured circumstance.
Despite its saturated hues and often humorous subjects, there’s a darkness and a gentle undercurrent of rage that permeates my work. I’m interested in the idea that we have the power to shape our own realities but despite our abundant potential, we often feel beset by our circumstances. This gives rise to tensions and inner conflicts. It’s these feelings of frustration and the search for meaning I want to explore in the face of the absurdity of our existence.—Parker Day
At 6:00 p.m., on the Sunday before Memorial Day, May 28, author Parker Day, and several of her Icon models will converge upon La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd. for a One Night Only Pop-up Exhibit and Books Signing.
Multiply (Luna Rae)
This interview with Parker about her process was conducted on May 25 via email. Enjoy it, and come to the event!
What inspires your characters?Do you have a stockpile of ideas?
My childhood growing up in my dad’s musty comic shop, my eternal fascination with the weird and wondrous individuals of Los Angles, my youthful love of playing dress up expanded out into ideas around the performative aspects of identity… it all sort of sloshes around together and then when I’m ready to create work I intuitively let the forms materialize, with my subjects being the nexus.
Goosebumps (Maddy Ellwanger)
Can you give a brief description of your process, from idea to image?
It varies widely. I don’t have one way I like to work but I am constantly jotting down notes for future shoots. Often it’s little things like “goldfish in a bag” or “pronounced underbite.” Sometimes I’ll write little stories about who a character is.
What are your photoshoots like? Do you have a crew assisting you with makeup, wardrobe, lighting, etc?
I like for it to be as close to one on one as possible. I only have a team if the shoot necessitates it (for my personal work 95% of the time it’s just me and my model). I shoot in my home with the cats running around and it’s very chill and playful.
Do you ever change your ideas/direction midway through a shoot?
Of course! That’s where the magic comes in. You gotta stay open to inspiration.
You work in visual – analog – real time. Why have you decided to shy away from the flexibility of PhotoShop (etc)?
Because I want my fantastical photographs to have a grounding in reality. Also I love zits! I love greasy foreheads, belly rolls, stray hairs, and lipstick on the teeth. I love it all! Why would I want to do away with the things that make us so charming?
Can you, without giving away any secrets, tell us how you achieve such beauty in your color saturation?
ha no secrets! It’s all about the Kodak Ektar. It’s a finicky film but you can get so much out of it. I scan myself with VueScan which is where I do all my color and exposure tweaks.
Blue Lady (Oscar Ambrosio)
Parker Day “ICONS” Book Release, Signing & Pop-Up Exhibit
Sunday, May 28, 6-9 PM
La Luz de Jesus Gallery
4633 Hollywood Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90027